Hey, here's some shocking news: Newsday's TV critic (that'd be me) loved the new season launch of "Mad Men."
But then, I've loved every minute of the show over the last three seasons, so why wouldn't I love these next 50 minutes or so?
Here's the review; runs in Friday's newspaper...
"Mad Men," AMC, Sunday, 10.
Reason to watch: Fourth season launch of two-time Emmy best drama winner.
Catching up: Don (Jon Hamm) and Betty Draper (January Jones) have split up for good, while Don, Roger Sterling (John Slattery), Bert Cooper (Robert Morse), Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) split from the mother agency to form their own boutique, named Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.
What Sunday is about: To avoid sparking a hot war with AMC, fans and creator Matthew Weiner, it's probably best to employ broad generalities here. Foremost, not much time has passed - Sunday takes place around Thanksgiving 1964, and - without going too deeply into mid-60s history - two vastly different episodes occurred this year that have some bearing on Sunday. First, civil rights activist Andrew Goodman was murdered in June outside Philadelphia, Miss.; and Babette March modeled a bikini on the cover "SI's" first swimsuit edition, sparking a fashion revolution. The “bikini” was named after Bikini atoll, where 23 nukes were detonated between 1946 and ’58, and on some level of your sub-conscious, “Mad Men” probably wants you to keep that fact handy as well. The advertising world of New York circa 1964 is still dominated by giants like Young & Rubicam, but a relatively new phenomenon is aborning - the "boutique," run by talented, smart, incredibly willful creative types. Don Draper, of course, is now a member of this club. Besides those giants still roaming the woods, his new agency has an oddly counter intuitive problem - namely Don's unwillingness to promote HIMSELF.
My say: Was that general enough? TOO general? Fine, then let's bore in a bit. There's a scene Sunday night where Don stares in rapt wonder at a TV screen while his commercial for Glo-coat comes on; it's a dark, surreal, Kafkesque piece of business that abruptly segues into a '60s style hard-pitch for floor wax. This one ad has made Draper a superstar in the ad world, and maybe because it captures so perfectly the zeitgeist of '64. The irony - in the context of this episode anyway - is that it captures so perfectly the zeitgeist of Don Draper too. Despite the reveals of season three, he very remains the most mysterious, and intriguing, protagonist on TV.
Bottom line: True blue fans will swoon. Everything they - you - love about this classic is laid out, banquette-like, Sunday night - the fashions, style, elegance, writing, characters, precision, beauty and most of all, the humor. There are some VERY funny lines throughout.